Sicily has been confirmed as the replacement start for this year’s Giro d’Italia, after initial plans to begin the race in Hungary were scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hungary’s capital city Budapest had been scheduled to host the race start on May 9, with the opening three stages taking place in the nation before moving to Italy for the rest of the Grand Tour.
The coronavirus pandemic led to Hungary declaring a state of emergency, which caused the postponement of the race. The Giro d’Italia was later rescheduled for October 3 to 25, with Sicily stepping in to host the first four stages.
“Since 2019, with the Sicilian Region, we have been developing an important project to promote the region through cycling,” said race organiser RCS Sport. “It’s a communication path that started with the relaunch of the international race, Il Giro di Sicilia.
“Now we have the Grande Partenza from Monreale and three other stages that will show the beauty of Sicily to the world. “It will therefore be a UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation] World Heritage site to kick off a unique, all-Italian edition of the Giro d’Italia.
“It’s a fascinating and spectacular way to open the 103rd edition of the Race.”
The race is set to open with a 16-kilometre individual time trial from Monreale to Palermo on October 3, with a 150km second stage from Alcamo to Agrigento planned the following day.
The third stage will feature the first summit finish of the race, with a 150km route taking riders from Enna to Mount Etna.
Stage four will conclude racing in Sicily, with sprinters expected to compete for victory at the conclusion of the 138km route from Catania to Villafranca Tirrena.
It will be the ninth Giro d’Italia race start from Sicily, with the most recent having been back in 2008.
Stages five and six of the race are yet to be confirmed.
“A great event, not only from a sporting point of view – this traditional sport has many enthusiasts in Sicily – but also for promoting tourism, with the Giro d’Italia which will highlight the most beautiful parts and the most interesting landscape and aspects of our territory,” said Nello Musumeci, President of the Sicilian Region.
“It’s a great opportunity for sport and tourism, and to show the best part of our land to Italy and to the world.”
Michael Pavitt – InsideTheGames / EPA